Racism in the Works of H.P. Lovecraft

I can the better understand the inert blindness & defiant ignorance of the reactionaries from having been one of them. I know how smugly ignorant I wasH.P. Lovecraft

One of the most controversial aspects of Lovecraft's works is the author's inclusion of racist ideas and themes, which "does not endear Lovecraft to the modern reader," and comes across through many disparaging remarks against the various non-Anglo-Saxon races and cultures within his work.

As he grew older, the more "jagged" aspects of his original Anglo-Saxon racial worldview softened into a universal classicism or elitism regarding any fellow human being of self-ennobled high culture as of metaphorical "superior race." Lovecraft did not from the start even hold all white people in uniform high regard, but rather he held Anglo-Nordic people, and especially persons of English descent, above all others. While his racist perspective is undeniable, many critics argue this does not detract from his ability to create compelling philosophical worlds which have inspired many artists and readers.

In his early published essays, private letters and personal utterances, he argued for a strong color line, for the purpose of preserving race and culture. These arguments occurred through direct statements against different races in his journalistic work and personal correspondence, or perhaps allegorically in his work using non-human races. Some have interpreted his racial attitude as being more cultural than brutally biological: Lovecraft showed sympathy to others who pacifically assimilated into Western culture, to the extent of even marrying a Jewish woman whom he viewed as "well assimilated."

While Lovecraft's racial attitude has been seen as directly influenced by the time, a reflection of the New England society he grew up in, his racism appeared stronger than the popular viewpoints held at that time. Some researchers also note that his views failed to change in the face of increased social change of that time. It is noted that in his last year, Lovecraft embraced socialism and Roosevelt's New Deal while dismissing many of his old right wing views.1

It can also be noted that H.P. Lovecraft was homophobic, considering homosexuality to be unnatural and repulsive. (HPL: Selected Letters of H.P. Lovecraft 4.639)


  1. New Deal Politics in the Correspondence of H. P. Lovecraft
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